BENDIGO mayor Margaret O’Rourke says the upcoming federal election will be a key focus as she takes on the role as chair of Regional Cities Victoria for a second year.
The election is likely to be held in May, and Cr O’Rourke said the mayors and chief executive officers of 10 regional Victorian cities were hoping were adequate grant funding opportunities and more detail on decentralisation policies.
Cr O’Rourke, who was recently voted in for a third consecutive term as Bendigo mayor, said it was a “terrific” opportunity for her to put regional cities at the front of mind for the federal government and opposition.
“We are putting a prospectus together of elements that we want to see achieved during the election campaign,” she said.
“We are interested in following up the outcomes of the decentralisation inquiry and what that means for regional Victoria.
“We know that we do things in regional Victoria just as well as the city does, if not better.”
RCV includes Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, Horsham, Latrobe, Mildura, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga.
Other mayors put their hands up to be chair, but Cr O’Rourke managed to win re-election.
She said the mayors did not see themselves as competing with each other for attention from higher levels of government.
“When we all sit around the table, we are very collegial and work together towards policy changes that would benefit regional Victoria,” Cr O’Rourke said.
RCV last year released a report that found cities such as Bendigo had greater “liveability” than two-thirds of Melbourne, and house prices were less than half that of most metropolitan areas.
The state Coalition promised to move Victorian Government banking from Westpac to Bendigo Bank, but lost the election.
Cr O’Rourke said policies such as this had merit, and would encourage governments to consider supporting regional businesses.
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